Christmas is just around the corner. Malls will be busy with frantic shoppers; sappy Christmas shows from the Hallmark channel will cover the airways. Parents will pretend to send Christmas wish lists to Santa and kids will impatiently wait for that fabulous day. Christmas. It is perfect isn’t it?

Well for some it is not perfect. Many people dread this season. Single parents are worried if they will be able to afford the simplest gifts much less keep up with the neighbors. Still others will be spending their first Christmas without a loved one. Financial troubles, lost loved ones, divorce, and the list could go on and on. The dream of the perfect family celebrating Christmas around the beautiful Christmas tree collapses with mental disease, drug addiction and loss. Christmas can often can make us feel hopeless.

Not long ago, I lost my father to cancer and if I am honest, I will cry a little on Christmas day. It is hard when you shared this special day with someone special in your life for years, and then suddenly, they are no longer there.

But my tears will be short and then as in the past two years I will smile. I will smile because I will remember what this time of the year is all about. It is not about the gifts, the tree, the lights or even the really good food. Christmas is not even about families coming together. This season is the season of Advent. Advent simply means the coming. What this season is about is the coming of God to our world. Immanuel – God with us!

And as we turn our focus away from the commercialized aspects of Christmas and focus on the first, Advent-coming of God, our thoughts quickly turn to the Hope we have in the Second, Advent. You see, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus our thoughts are to take us to that special day in the future when Jesus will return. He will return to set the world to right.

John the disciple of Jesus had a vision of this Second Advent while he was imprisoned on a small little island. A vision so big, so wonderful, so BEAUTIFUL that his sorrow turned to Hope!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

For those of you who feel hopeless, lost, and afraid this year. Turn your eyes away from the tree, away from the gifts and focus on Jesus. Celebrate His First Advent and then, allow your mind and imagination to turn to the near and future Second Advent.

Jesus is coming, the King is returning, and He will set the world to right. No more death, no more sickness, tears will be wiped away, families will be reunited, love will overflow.

Santa and candy canes will not bring you hope but, Jesus will.

Merry Christmas and may God fill you with hope.

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